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Quarantine, Shmorentine

By Kristen O'Toole
October 27, 2020

Many articles have been written about what the quarantine taught us about ourselves. I didn’t realize that having MS was going to make me a “quarantine expert.” Truthfully, this hasn’t been that hard for me.

I have been living in some kind of quarantine since I was diagnosed with RRMS in 2014. I have used a wheelchair since my diagnosis and relinquished driving too.

I have gotten a lot better since my diagnosis, but I have not regained the ability to walk solo. I have a lot of other symptoms as well, but using a wheelchair is my most visible symptom.

So here are my tips on getting through any kind of quarantine.

  • Grocery deliveries: I use a delivery service all the time. I used grocery delivery well before the quarantine. I like being in charge of the groceries, and it’s one less thing that I have to ask my husband to do. I keep a running list going at the various stores on my phone. When I need new bananas, I have them come and deliver my groceries.
  • Restaurant deliveries: We don’t get it that often, but it’s one thing that we can do to support our local businesses. It also frees up a bit of time in the kitchen. Some nights, we just need a pizza! For us, it’s worth the expense.
  • Netflix: I watch a lot of TV and movies. I did before the quarantine. And I will after. There’s no shame in my game. There is a ton of content on Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc. I try to make sure that there is something I watch daily that’s somewhat educational. But, it’s okay to binge on “Tiger King.” There’s too much stress, so allow yourself the mental break and watch something for pure entertainment. But I refuse to let my mind turn to mush!
  • Teleconferences: I don’t work out of the home anymore, but when I did, I got a ton of work done at home. That was when video conferences weren’t as popular. I’m glad employers are catching on. There will be huge impacts on the small businesses around the companies who are keeping their workers at home for their health and to save costs.And I’m really glad Medicare rules have been relaxed, and I can get a lot of doctor’s appointments via telemedicine. That helps me tremendously. Since I don’t drive, I used to take paratransit all the time. Since COVID-19, I don’t take it. I’m fortunate that my husband takes me to most appointments now, but the few times he has to take me, and I have to go to a hospital or doctor for an appointment that I could easily do online, I’m thankful.
  • Uncertainty abounds: Everyone’s future is uncertain right now. I live with MS. My future is always uncertain. Everyone is different. Some people like to bake. Some people like to do puzzles. Some people don’t like either or can’t do either. It’s okay to feel stressed about the future. Therapists are available online. Talk to one. The Find Doctors & Resources tool can help you search for therapist in your area, and they are all Partners in MS Care.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others: This is always good advice. When I worked, I used to have to talk to staffers about this all the time. I’ve been talked to about it! Yes, some people are building tiny homes in their backyards. Or landscaping their yards to perfection. It’s okay to just get through the quarantine and not have a big project to show for it. Don’t feel bad about yourself. There are enough things about 2020 that make us feel bad. Take care of yourself. You don’t need self-criticism, jealousy or regret or any other negative emotions that it might stir in you.

These are just a few thoughts that I’ve had. I’m sure there are a ton more tips. Bottom line is take care of yourself and your health, both mental and physical. Times are tough. But you are tougher!


Editor’s Note: The Society continues to be there for people affected by MS. The recommendations referred below reflect the information available during the time of this blog’s publication. For the latest information and resources related to COVID-19, please visit the Society’s Coronavirus Resources Page. 

Kristen O'Toole

Kristen O’Toole is a former public relations executive. She now volunteers for the National MS Society as a Walk MS Team Captain, District Activist Leader and serves on the Government Relations Advisory Council for her state, Pennsylvania. In 2019, she was named Southwestern PA’s MS Activist of the Year. She was diagnosed in 2014 and wants to raise awareness and understanding about MS until we find a cure.

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